Saturday, November 29, 2014

Re-evaluating recaps.

One of the oddly fascinating innovations of modern internet life is the TV episode recap, found in great abundance across the web these days. There are fan reviews, of course, which are natural appreciations of a show with a fan following, even if that following is rather small. But then there are the fairly objective retellings that just spill the events of a given show, like this one from Entertainment Weekly on the Thanksgiving episode of Elementary.

Now, recaps are nothing new to Sherlockians. Michael and Mollie Hardwick's 1962 Sherlock Holmes Companion comes quickly to mind, in which short summations of all sixty original Holmes tales are written up. But the rational behind them was always a curious thing to me -- the summaries seem to be there for that small niche market of people who had read the stories once and forgotten all the details, or people who had not read the stories at all and still had enough energy to read synopses for whatever their motives. Any real fan of Sherlock Holmes, as most of the people who bought that book surely were, knew well what was in those stories.

But these days, the recap serves a real purpose. We are so deluged with information and opportunities for entertainment that we can't take in at all, nor do we want to. Yet to remain conversant in the interests of co-workers or friends, sometimes it's good to keep up on story developments in whatever is currently popular. There are even those shows, as The Walking Dead is for me, that aren't quite making the cut among shows that one has time to watch every week, or have an uncomfortable level of gore or stupid detective plots for a particular viewer, that one can be perfectly happy just knowing what happened to the characters on some weeks, then watching the current episode or season finale when time allows.

It's hard for a fan to understand anyone doing such a thing, just as I always had a hard time getting the "why" of the Hardwicks' synopses. But these days I'm starting to get it. Reviews are still much more fun, even if one disagrees with the writer in question, especially with a show like Elementary where the fans' POV baffles me as much as mine tends to baffle them. (Thankfully, the amount of "Why do you keep watching that show?" comments have dropped off, as the show's fans have either accepted me as the village lunatic or moved on.)


  1. '(Thankfully, the amount of "Why do you keep watching that show?" comments have dropped off, as the show's fans have either accepted me as the village lunatic or moved on.)'

    (I suspect it's a little of both.) That just leaves more room for us lunatics. ^__^

    As for the joys of synopses, it has always baffled me; but as a rabid fan of Holmes, Star Trek, and Doctor Who (why yes, I do swing both ways; why do you ask?) in the '80s, I remember being desperate for new content of any kind, even if it was just telling me what I'd already seen. At least they usually had pretty pictures.

    Nowadays I don't even bother. Yay/boo the Intertoobs.

    Korina (worse, I was a GIRL!)

    PS I amassed quite a collection of fanzines in the day; I still have a boxful in the garage, if the mice haven't eaten them.

    1. Very good point, Korina. I remember those days when genre fans were so desperate for sci-fi, fantasy, etc., that we'd watch something we knew wasn't that great, just for something in our favorite area. These days, happily, we have choices!

      Speaking of which, here's a non-Holmes link to remind one of just how bad things were for the comic book fan, compared to now: